Category Archives: Innovation
With some tipping Google Glass to further evolve change our day-to-day experiences, DT’s creative technologist and Glass sceptic Tim Devine found some surprising results after a week with the device.
In a kind of tribute to Steve Mann, the father of wearable computing, and so that I might have at least something of an informed opinion on the subject, I wore Google Glass for a week — everywhere, all the time. For thirty years Mann has worn far less sophisticated versions, so I figured it couldn’t be that onerous, and if I was to give Mann and Glass proper shrift nothing less than full immersion would do.
Aside from my Mann crush, as a creative technologist and practicing media artist my work has at times suffered from crushes on various technologies. There is something wonderful about expectations for a new technology — beyond the new toy anticipation the potential for a leap to occur, even if only in the imagination, is sufficient to begin all manner of feverish speculation.
My relationship with Glass as a technology reminds me of a girl I was seeing a few years ago. While crashing on a friends couch in Brooklyn after an epic romance and break up I noticed a card that read, “I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you”. Love is blind but temporarily.
So the question this led me to suppose was do our relationships with technologies form in a similar way to our relationships with people? A hot flush at the beginning, fading slowly to something you could reasonably take for granted but pine for when you’re apart, replace with the new and shiny, or even do away with altogether?
A few weeks ago I found myself, a youngish creative technologist, contemplating an arranged marriage with Google Glass. Our agency, DT, was fortunate enough to acquire a couple of sets and as I run the creative technology lab I felt obliged to engage.
To be honest, if I could solve a brief with a single fold in a sheet of A4 paper I would. I’ve spent years trying to neutralise the effect technology has on me, while endeavouring to deeply understanding it — when a technology like this is pre-released and inevitably polarises the community, it ends up shrouded in media hype, shrill denunciations and misrepresentative guesswork in the rush to be earliest non-adopter.
The most useful commentary comes from direct experience no matter the device. So I flipped the SIM from my iPhone 5 into a Nexus 5, (Glass needs to be tethered to an Android phone) and strapped on Glass for a week.
Wearing Glass is like dating a celebrity
All week I scored free drinks and double takes as I went about my everyday. It was with me everywhere — driving, golfing, the beach, cycling, the cinema, a rooftop bar, work, watching a band, a restaurant, rock climbing and importantly while I lay hungover in my lounge room hammock. I didn’t skydive, fly a stunt plane, frolic with reptiles, trapeze, sword fight, juggle fire, ice sculpt, own a catwalk, hot air balloon or figure skate — though I was ready for it all, Google.
Glass brings voice interaction into a far more functional context. You have to give over to it, to the point where it sounds like you’re talking to a puppy — very conspicuous if there isn’t a puppy around. If you enunciate, and the sound environment is at a reasonable level, it’s pretty good.
Halfway into my week I found myself engaging in conversation with other computer generated voices, similar to accidentally swiping a non-touchscreen, or mentally pressing “Command-Z” when you pour salt instead of sugar into your tea. In a most illustrative case I was in the part harried, part dazed condition induced by self-checkout in the supermarket.
When asked if I wanted a receipt I accurately turned to face the machine and robotically, in perfect oral formation, enunciated “No. (Pause) Thanks.” Under normal conditions I’m as irritated and diminished as the next person by the automated voice of those machines yet here I was naturally, if automatically, having verbal exchange with one as I would any corporeal service entity.
Fear of blinking in bathrooms
Glass is great for capturing content by voice or wink detection. It’s some kind of wonderful snapping photos with the wink of an eye. Every time I posted something to Facebook it was tagged ‘via Google Glass’, and shot from my 203cm perspective. The result is a peculiar kind of kink in the cultural and visual aesthetic to the content glass captures — it will always be shot from slightly above and outside your right eye, though I eventually figured out how to take a selfie without looking at a mirror. I did find myself trying to warp my neck or body for the best shot, but generally I took photos with a quick wink. If you wish to you can imagine my cold, blinkless disposition while I line up in a bathroom at the rooftop bar.
Being unusually tall I’m used to people compelled to ask questions about my experience up there. With Glass I’ve added an entirely new set of icebreakers. Mostly I found myself looking awkwardly out of windows on trams so as to not to have passengers opposite feel like they were in my camera’s field of view. Maybe there will be a mechanical shutter door in future releases to alleviate this awkwardness. Or better still, maybe we need a new type of necklace that emits powerful infrared light visible only to Glass and not the human eye, blowing out all photos taken with Glass, like a kind of urban camo! Tech, counter tech.
Google Glass sits somewhere between the hype and a hands free bluetooth headset with a screen/camera
My original view of Glass was that it was a thing you wore all the time and that it would more or less replace your phone. Personally I wouldn’t wear it all the time. In the Glass Explorer forums there are countless tips on when it’s appropriate to wear it or how to avoid confrontation — like a dojo really. That said, it’s been 24 hours since the end of my experience and I’ve caught myself peering longingly up to where my Glass once satiated my visual cortex… I miss it… if only a little.
Some people will love Glass and wear it all the time (afforded the excuse to wear prescriptionless designer frames). For others maybe it’s a part-time screen, with similar utility to a hands free earpiece. Either way Glass, or some other brand of face-screen coming soon, is definitely going to be part of our mediated life.
Tim Devine is a Creative Technologist at DT.
This article was originally published on mUmBRELLA.
Photos by Nik Janev.
It’s fair to say almost everyone who works in the creative industries has a side project incubating in their dreams. But DT strategist Athan Didaskalou has actually made his happen with the launch of Three Thousand Thieves, a monthly coffee subscription. Every month he and his team hunt down and curate Melbourne’s best artisan roasters, and deliver the coffee straight to subscribers’ doors.
Like all the best ideas, it was prompted by first-hand observation. Whether it’s fetishising the humble brunch or waiting two hours a night for a new dessert degustation pop-up, Melburnians have a passion for food culture and love to discover and try new things. And in turn, that creativity is expressing itself in how we cook. But Ath realised this sense of discovery never really extended to the coffee we make in our own kitchens.
“When you make coffee at home, it’s often only ever with the one blend from the one brand,” he says. “It’s either purchased from a place close to work or home, or, you have an emotional bond with that brand and that’s why you continue to purchase it.”
But playing it safe means missing out, because Melbourne is a coffee-roasting hub. Rarely do you find so many artisan roasters within a city, Ath says. The problem is that their exposure is often niche. “Three Thousand Thieves acts as a marketing tool for these niche brands, exposing themselves to a larger coffee loving audience. The result is connecting Melbourne’s best roasters to an audience who were still stuck buying Lavazza by empowering them with local knowledge and lowering the barrier to try it.”
Before DT, Ath had been in hospitality his whole life, including at a small coffee roaster in North Balwyn.
Of course, having the insight, passion and the experience means nothing if you don’t get the idea off the ground. Though he realises he is not the first person to discover this, launching a business was actually a lot harder than he anticipated. “Essentially, I became my own worst client. All the things I usually recommend to in my day job came second on my list of priorities. I obsessed about sales, packaging, reducing costs, identifying the right suppliers, and at the same time ensuring these factors kept my business model profitable.”
But he has found that the clients he works with at DT enjoy talking shop with him. “It’s been great to discuss accounting issues and marketing efforts with clients who give you their own opinions about what works and what to focus on.”
Now those same DT clients have become some of Ath’s first customers. And so have his bosses, who love his idea. “DT harbours a culture of entrepreneurship, and working in that environment definitely rubs off on you,” Ath says, though he could just be saying this to suck up. (He admits to using the company printers “once or twice,” thanks to DT’s supportive MD Brian Vella.)
How does he juggle working full time and doing all this on the side? He’s built some balance directly into his business model. Since it’s based on a monthly cycle, Ath and his sister Anthea print and pack the orders over the month, and dispatch the coffee the day after it’s roasted. That means the workload is spread out and, touch wood, there are only a few late nights. “With the right business model, you can do something a little fun on the side and maintain your sanity.”
What’s next? Ath would like to grow Three Thousand Thieves organically. Interestingly, he identifies the biggest area for growth as the ‘curation via subscription’ business model itself. ”Melbourne has such a unique food culture: the people, the flavours, and the opportunity to dabble in diversity is limitless. I want to connect that with the digital world, and get more people involved with the passion for food in this city.”